By Grace Maselli
Gratitude. I aim to be mindful of it not just at obvious times, not only at positive turning points, but daily. But I have to admit, some days this mindfulness works more fluidly than other days. This past Saturday I rushed my 19-year-old son to the ER after a two-hour drive north from Tampa to Orlando where he was in final exams week for his first semester of college. He contracted an off-the-charts case of mononucleosis that otherwise “self-resolves,” docs were saying. When we got to the ER my son’s fever was 103.5 and his heart rate was 133, both high, but the latter especially so for someone only 19 years old. More technically, his hemoglobin levels were tanking as his liver enzymes climbed, which meant both levels were moving in the wrong direction. “You just got unlucky,” one physician was quick to point out as my son was hooked up to IV fluids and “broad spectrum” IV antibiotics while umpteen blood-related tests were being run. The antibiotics were for a co-occurring bacterial infection noted by white blood cells in his body where they ought not to have been. My son went from a bed in the ER to outpatient “observation” to full in-patient treatment over a five-day period.
From the start members of the Tampa Bay and Spring Hill, not to mention people from the St. Petersburg Timebank, had my back. At 4:30 a.m. on Saturday I sent the first email notifying members in Spring Hill that I had to cancel my participation later that morning as a volunteer for two hours with a yard sale, and a two-hour stint later in the afternoon with another member assisting with her home organization project. This tipped my member-friends to the unfolding situation and the support was forthcoming from there.
I received routine check-ins from TBT and Spring Hill through text messaging and email and across the entire arc of the experience. Within a day I had a no-cost place to stay in Orlando if I needed it. (As it turned out, the hospital generously let me bunk in the empty double-occupancy bed next to my son once he moved into in-patient care. Another beautiful and unexpected gift. Not mention the fact that my manager gave me the time away from work needed to be with my son.) I was immediately put in contact with other timebank members, including those from Pinellas, who have expert information on how to rebuild the immune system. I have an ongoing timebank-driven consult for my son on the best dietary choices as he moves to rebuild his “organic” immunity through his long period of convalescence. I even now have timebanking hours I can use for life coaching as we head into 2019 that comes directly out of this intense experience.
A Reminder to Keep a Look-Out for the Gifts,
No Matter Their Size
My intention is to fortify my daily practice of taking account with even greater presence of mind those things large and small that fill me with gratitude. From the gorgeous, nostalgic smell of crushed leaves wafting toward my nostrils as my bike ambles over them, to the news that my child’s fever and heart rate are beginning to normalize, and everything in between. I am equally fortified to return the favor, and have deeper compassion for my timbank posse. And to the physician who said to my son, “You just got unlucky,” I gently, meaningfully say to him through the finite, revisionist dialogue in my head, “‘Dear sir, au contraire.'”
By Grace Maselli
Ho ho. And ho! It’s that time of year again for old-fashioned glazed ham and holiday popcorn balls. Or if you’re vegetarian, polenta and goat cheese stacks. Or if you’re vegan, parsnip, cranberry and chestnut loaf. Whatever your persuasion, you’re welcome at the Tampa Bay Timebank holiday potluck table. Bring yourself, a friend, and a dish to share. Come and meet us at the Tuesday, December 18 Third Tuesday of the Month gathering at Tampa’s Life Enrichment Center (LEC). We’ll be talking timebanking and, of course, noshing and de-lishing on seasonal foods including some turkey and trimmings. We’ll also carve out time for a group activity:
Contemplate the World Through the Lens of “Gifts”
“Leading gratitude researcher Robert Emmon says that ‘perceiving a positive experience as a gift may be a form of cognitive amplification that enhances positive feelings. When we amplify, we increase or make more powerful the object of focus. Our positive feelings become amplified when we see their source as a gift we have been given to benefit us.'”
Here’s the essence of what we’ll try when we’re together. Bring a piece of paper and a pen:
“Focus for a moment on benefits or ‘gifts’ that you have received in your life. These gifts could be simple everyday pleasures, people in your life, personal strengths or talents, moments of natural beauty, or gestures of kindness from others. We might not normally think about these things as gifts, but that is how we want you to think about them. Take a moment to really savor or relish these ‘gifts,’ think about their value, and then write them down…” Plan to share, if you’re comfortable with the idea.
See immediately below for the straight up holiday news on when and where we’ll meet. In the mean time, Boris Karloff and TBT hope your Christmas lights stay tangle-free!
|Date||Tuesday, December 18, 2018|
|Address||9704 North Boulevard, Tampa, FL 33612; phone: 813.932.0241|
|Questions?||Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (215) 834-4567 and reference our Holiday Season potluck at LEC. Yippee!|
By Grace Maselli
You’re being beckoned, dear reader, to think about what’s meaningful to you this holiday season. The question to consider is, What sets your own inner light ablaze? What gives your life and soul a sense of purpose? What revs you up, puts a smile on your face, inspires you to spread joy and declare your life distinguished to you? What feels purposeful from your perspective? Is it children, animals, volunteerism, the interconnectedness of family?
come from. Let us know here in the blog comments box, or let it roll around in your heart as you consider holiday cheer from TBT and timebanks everywhere that are devoted to connection, to keeping people in communities linked to one another!
By Grace Maselli
It was a panoply of human experience at our Sunday, December 2 Show & Tell. And the naked truth is we had a ton of fun and some tears, too. Just under 20 TBT members and friends brought their wonderful Show & Tell items and regaled us with stories from Africa, Brazil, Russia, and Wesley Chapel, Florida. We sat in a giant circle with our bellies full of star fruit and eggplant, hummus and crab salad garnished with garden fresh greens to hear about favorite nanas and one-of-a-kind aunties who never had children of their own; one tale was of a beautiful ring with a light blue topaz stone and diamond chips selected by a very young son and paid for by a now-deceased but deeply cherished former husband. The ring is so precious to the owner that she passed it around by walking from participant to participant with the topaz still on her hand to avoid risk of loss. Now that’s an attachment!
Here are some quick additional highlights, a sampling in no particular order, of the other expressive, stirring goodies our generous participants brought to share, along with a table full of equally soulful potluckery:
• A genuine rubbing from Shakespeare’s tombstone in Stratford-upon-Avon, England;
• A 50-year-old Brazilian medicine-woman-and-midwife doll, from a country where our member lived as a child;
• A painting of Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev (sans birthmark) brought back from a member’s trip to Saint Petersburg, Russia, along with a mysterious piece of (we think) bone with holes in it found in a Virginia river. Consensus is it may be a musical instrument;
• Medical “handcuffs” from before the time of anesthesia (Yes, wincing is acceptable…);
• A cherished brooch from a beautiful aunt;
• An acrylic painting, a member artist’s rendering in lush colors of her backyard and the synchronicity story of how her house found her;
• Two pieces of vivid, hand-hewn glassware;
• A money plant shared between cousins;
• A handmade necklace made of silver and Tanzanite, with the stone found in Africa by the jewelry maker herself;
• A slender, sculptural statue of Mary, a revered object cherished by our participant’s mother, and now, her adult daughter;
• A homemade Buddhist altar complete with gemstones, Italianate glass, and paper birds.
What, dear reader, would you have brought to the TBT Show & Tell? Any other comments? Don’t be shy, leave a reply below!
By Grace Maselli
Reminder: It’s Show & Tell potluck time! Bring us your quirky and nostalgic—your cornball and wistful. We welcome it all!
|Date||Sunday, December 2, 2018|
|Time||3 to 6 PM|
|Address||2128 Park Crescent Drive
Land O Lakes, FL 34639
|Questions?||Give Grace a shout-out at 215.834.4567|
Our Show & Tell potluck comes straight out of the pantheon of classroom classics. But the one on December 2 is for big kids. So whether you want to bring the rutabaga you grew from seed, a lace doily tatted lovingly from scratch, miniature doll furniture made of walnut shells and tree sap, or the photo of Clark Gable’s Cadillac you snagged at the Clark Gable Birthplace Museum in Cadiz, OH, then cool! Come to Show & Tell and share memories, dreams, losses, and gains. Tell us why you picked what you picked. What about it speaks to you? We want to know. Because no matter your age, connecting, communicating, sharing ideas and objects—can pique curiosity, give license to expression, and open doors to audience interests. Bring some grub and a friend too who may be interested in learning more about timebanking as we move into the future with our TBT revitalization efforts.
By Grace Maselli
In the words of British-American philosopher Alan Watts, “Thoughts and words are conventions…and it is fatal to take conventions too seriously.” He used money as a case in point in his 1951 book, The Wisdom of Insecurity, A Message for an Age of Anxiety. “Money gets rid of the inconveniences of barter,” Watts offers. “But it is absurd to take money too seriously, to confuse it with real wealth, because it will do you no good to eat it or wear it for clothing. Money is more or less static, for gold, silver, strong paper, or a bank balance can ‘stay put’ for a long time. But real wealth, such as food, is perishable. Thus a community may possess all the gold in the world, but if it does not farm its crops it will starve.” A relatable point. And the last time I tried to make stew out of $5 bills, it was lousy.
Watts’ caveats beg additional questions:
• Have you ever known anyone who takes money too seriously?
• Have you yourself been anxious about money?
• Have you thought about this recently, as we immerse ourselves in the holiday season and dreams of a magnetic floating bed for $1.6 million? (Yes, it’s true. Such a thing exists.)
• What is real wealth anyway?
• Is it more than moolah?
• Has your view of it changed over the past 10 years?
• The past 20?
• How do you think about children, teenagers, mothers, and seniors in the context of money-making and “wealth?”
• Do you have wealth in health? In a support system? As a way in which you express and exchange usefulness in society, and in your local community?
A Baby Gets Birthed at the London School of Economics
Edgar Cahn, Timebank founder who is now 82 years old, was interviewed earlier this year by Forbes magazine and has long thought outside the polyhedron when it comes to the issue of money and its power, if left unchecked, to define worth. “All sorts of things don’t get valued in our current economic system, despite having tremendous value. Notably, the unpaid work of mothers to care for, educate, and otherwise support their children.” A podcast with Edgar and Forbes’ Devin Thorpe explores timebanking, an economic model that Edgar initially took to the London School of Economics for feedback and legitimacy (read: a reality check) when he was first birthing his brainchild.
These days the baby is all grown up. “There are over 500 timebanks in the U.S. and at least an equal number spread out over 38 countries,” Edgar says in the podcast. “In Wales, [timebanking] is recognized formally by the national government. Scotland just had a two-week celebration of timebanking and ‘co-production’,” he adds.
Three things undergird timebanking, Edgar says:
- Core Economy: There’s an economy we undervalue and take for granted known as “unpaid labor”: This economy raises children, makes strong families, makes neighborhoods safe, makes Democracy work, and keeps the planet sustainable. It’s the ecosystem that’s as basic as the ozone layer we took for granted,” he adds. “We need this ecosystem as human beings,” and, “There is a larger economic system than that which is driven and counted by money.”
- Currency: “Money does some good things and some strange things,” Edgar says. “Money defines value by price. So if it’s scarce, it’s valuable [think a magnetic floating bed]. If it’s more abundant…it’s dirt cheap or worthless. [This translates to mean] that being a human being is worthless,” given the abundance of humans on the planet, he says. When we “listen to each other, care for each other, come to each other’s rescue, stand up for what is right, oppose what is wrong,” we are coming together as the social animals we are, and timebanking is a system that honors and values—assigns worth to all this. And therefore assigns worth to all people by designing a different type of currency where one skill hour is worth exactly the same as another skill hour and gets exchanged equally within the timebank system. In other words, an hour of childcare is worth the same as an hour of work on an architectural plan.
- Co-Production: “We must enlist the persons whom we’re trying to help as our partners or we can’t succeed,” says Edgar about a core timebanking principle. Timebanking is based on this give-and-take, a partnership of skills exchanges to benefit everyone who’s bought into (no pun intended) the model. People in timebanks have partnered with others to help them in their life “processes.” This can extend to health recovery, lowered rates of recidivism in drug addiction and mental illness relapse, creation of civic patrols in neighborhoods to help make them safer, among countless other examples. Timebanks can be used to “build and meld” community, Edgar says, “and as a stream to generate specific programs.”
Listen to the podcast and keep an ear open for “homecomers.” Consider what it might mean in the context of real wealth, and if you believe there are some things that exist beyond quantification in dollars and cents. The takeaway from Edgar: “We have what we need if we use what we have.”
By Grace Maselli
Our early bird potluck meal and membership meeting on Tuesday, November 20 rocked the house. Or just as aptly, filled Tampa’s Life Enrichment Center where we meet every third Tuesday of the month with a razzle dazzle of Thanksgiving food and conversation. Idea sharing encompassed core timebank concepts including the belief that people are our greatest assets, and that we’re here to help one another by offering services we’re drawn to provide because they bring a sense of efficacy and joy. And all without an exchange of wampum. Of course, center stage was turkey, accompanied by mashed this and that, salads, veggies, and broccoli and cheddar scrumptiousness, along with pie, pie, pie.
According to some historians and Thanksgiving aficionados, Plymouth, MA in 1621 was not where the first celebratory meal was shared between colonists and Wampanoag Indians. Rather, roll it back by an approximate half century to 1565 when a boat load of Spaniards came ashore to Florida’s very own St. Augustine where the Europeans broke bread with the native Timucuan people.
You can also forget the bird 450+ years ago. The History Channel says what was served up “lacked most of today’s typical Thanksgiving dishes, but it did feature a traditional post-Thanksgiving staple—leftovers. Unlike the Pilgrims, who served food freshly harvested from American soil, the Spanish were forced to make do with whatever provisions survived the long voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. According to Robyn Gioia, author of the children’s book America’s REAL First Thanksgiving, the European colonists likely ate hard biscuits and cocido—a rich garbanzo stew made with pork, garlic, saffron, cabbage and onion—washed down with red wine.” Delicioso!
By Grace Maselli
Lest we forget-ski, members and friends, please know how welcome you are!!
Join us tonight at a shared, festive, pre-Thanksgiving potluck table! We’d love to see you.
Here’s the skinny (and the turkey fat):
|Date||Tuesday, November 20, 2018|
|Address||9704 North Boulevard, Tampa, FL 33612; phone: 813.932.0241.|
|Questions?||Contact email@example.com or call (215) 834-4567 and reference our Thanksgiving potluck at LEC|
Our second poem is by Maude Margaret Grant, writing more than 77 years ago.
A Thanksgiving Dinner
Take a turkey, stuff it fat,
Some of this and some of that.
Get some turnips, peel them well.
Cook a big squash in its shell.
Now potatoes, big and white,
Mash till they are soft and light.
Cranberries, so tart and sweet,
With the turkey we must eat.
Pickles-yes-and-then, oh my!
For a dessert a pumpkin pie,
Golden brown and spicy sweet.
What a fine Thanksgiving treat!
Acorns, vegetables, gravy, oh my!
By Grace Maselli
Ah, the holidays. They’re like petri dishes, perfect for growing some feelings. Some happy. Some, less so. This Thanksgiving my teen kids will be with their father. My family of origin is in New England where I hail from. I’ll be here, in Tampa Bay. Technically, this makes me one of the proverbial holiday stray. When I stopped to think about the word stray, and actually looked it up in my trusty dictionary, the connotation was clearer than ever. In verb form, it’s “to move away aimlessly from a group or from the right course or place.” As an adjective, it’s “not in the right place; separated from the group or target.” Synonyms are “homeless” and “waif.”
I’m happy to report, dear reader, that rather than go astray I will, in fact, be in the right place. My Thanksgiving will be spent this year with timebankers from within and around the Tampa Bay area. Nothing aimless about that. I also have it on good authority that sometimes being the “target” may not always yield the best outcome. So pooh pooh to the language of strays this holiday season, because timebanking has brought me into the fold, connected me to kind friends and welcoming peeps. Gratitude doesn’t begin to fully express the appreciation I feel, not to mention anticipation at eating dee-lish foods at a shared, collaborative table.
This is not insignificant in the face of the loneliness epidemic in our country. According to Ken Burdick, CEO of Tampa-headquartered WellCare Health Plans, Inc. in one of his recent blog posts, “Loneliness poses the same health risk as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. In fact, new research indicates weak social connections and feelings of extreme isolation could shorten a person’s life by 15 years. With more than one-third of U.S. adults age 45 or older indicating they are lonely, we’ve reached a critical number of individuals who are at risk for serious health outcomes.” Let’s ponder this while we slip into our stretchy pants and dive into some green bean casserole and pumpkin pie.
Ken goes on to say that persistent loneliness spikes risk for heart failure and cognitive decline. It’s also expensive to be lonely. “Beyond the health-related impact, social isolation and loneliness also have enormous fiscal implications. Every month, Medicare spends $134 more for socially isolated older adults than those adults who are more connected to their communities. This additional care translates into an estimated $6.7 billion in Medicare spending annually,” he says, positing that the health insurance industry needs to examine the issue to tee up some change. Among others, he writes to these verbatim specifics; take note of “Social Connections” in particular:
- Care in the Home. We must leverage care at home or outside of a clinical setting with support like the Program for All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), a federal initiative offered through a combination of Medicare and Medicaid funding. The goal is to keep seniors in their homes versus a nursing home. The program also comprises 255 PACE day centers called “PACE without Walls.”
- Social Connections. We need to help members build a stronger community – being connected is one of the leading predictors of extended life.
- Caregiver Support. We must also look at programs to address the impact loneliness is having on caregivers and their ability to assist. Some of the ways WellCare supports caregivers include paid training courses, certifications to enable pay for services and care management support.
Timebanking’s got a 30+ year jump on helping people in communities around the world make deeper social connections, build a stronger network of kindred spirits and people to weed wack for or eat turkey with. (Or just the roasted sweet potatoes and corn, if you’re vegetarian or vegan.) I for one will think twice before pulling the word “stray” from the rotating file of choices in my head, before pairing it with a fine brussel sprout varietal and extra fluffy mashed potatoes, among other serious eats. Let’s raise a glass together to keep the old (or young) ticker pumping with joy.